An Atlas of Wants

 

Agnes, I have seen it. I was taken to the cave and they showed me.

The Stone Man walks!

The last of its routes have been laid out and buried – the plateau is now ready. The Stone Man shall walk, we shall walk with it, and in its path — its shifts to the sun or back turned against the caldera — shall be revealed a chart of our desires.

Kinzo and his troupe will attend the border and inland paths for two days. They call it a vigil but there is a mundanity in magic sometimes, in particular for the magic of the many. Much can go wrong. Each of us is a variable. I must place my trust in them to know what’s best, though no-one alive was witness to the last Stone Walk.

I am not worried. Wisdom has a good strong voice here. I long to become a part of it. Agnes, what will be shown to me by the journey? Perhaps nothing, perhaps all of what we might become together.

Oaxa has been telling me again the process of each turn, where the carvings are and what to look for, and the things we might witness with each vista. At least, he has been trying to explain but still I cannot fully understand. ‘No matter,’ he said. ‘So long as you have listened, you will be ready to walk with the Stone Man.’

To this I gave a reverent nod though my heart was sending an eruption through my veins.

‘Be ready to follow only where the Stone Man leads,” he said. “The privileges of this journey are many, and available only to those who do not fight them. A man becomes lost when he denies the Stone Man’s path.”

How could I not be excited, my love?

I’m sure I shall return to you, dear Agnes, but Oaxa’s words were a warning. Though the route is marked by ancient accord there is still a chance to wander and become lost. Only time will tell, so I say now that I am sorry to not return, should that be my wyrd.

The Stone Walk takes no longer to rehearse as it will to undertake on the night. It is prudent to make sure all is correct, I suppose. I offered to go with the others on their vigil but was declined.

I am now alone in the cave with nothing but the grinding of the Stone Man’s breath in the shadows. It is a sound that demands to be heard.

Last Words

This won’t take long; no point getting comfy. I am gone and some of all I had will now be left to you, the hushed assembled. To the business of it then.

Gretchen. Dear Gretchen. You were always my favourite. Take the car. The keys are in the lockbox in the hall, to which you’ll need that other key or a crowbar for the opening thereof. The left front tyre runs down every few weeks. Keep this in mind on your longer journeys, won’t you?

To my youngest, John, I leave instructions on how to find my most precious thing. Turn your attention to the loose floorboard by the sink in my bathroom. My bathroom, mind, not the family room. If some other vulture has not already prised up every crooked thing in the house, there you’ll find a map. Use it. Discover! Borrow Gretchen’s crowbar if you need to. She will also help with transportation, I don’t doubt. It is the easiest way, and will bring you back into each other’s orbits at last.

Any thanks you both might wish to utter will not reach me now.

Jeff, you fouled-mouthed little glob, you can have my spoons and that’s all.

The rest to charity – the hospice and the refuge will receive half each from the sale. Any complaints you give voice to will not reach me either. Be thankful this day I have spared you from that other kind of wealth.

Anyway.

You will heed my wishes or you will not. I am beyond comfort in the earth.

 

 

 

 

 

Gorgomunda

Danbo Jones and Billy Pup trapped on a mountainside as the weather draws in. At least they have each other. That’s something, though if they pull through Dan really is going to have to ask Billy to stop fucking Dan’s wife while they’re away on business.

Corporate responsibility.

One of them has to pull through at least. I hope to god it’s Dan – he’s got the combination to the safe here. If it’s Billy then we’re screwed. Who knows what they’ll have left in the tank after this old storm?

The cleaners have seen it all. The liaisons amongst the post it notes. The rest of it. Yuck. An end to it would be a blessing. No more winks from the one with the lazy eye when we leave the building late together. They think all we do in here is get loaded and screw around.

It’s a lot more than that!

Gorgomunda,” is all she says.
Gorgomunda 
The many-headed snake god of the world.

Work

Peter Haynes is a fiction writer. Hailing from the wilds of Devon, he currently lives in Birmingham, UK.

 

Upcoming:

  • Launch of anthology “Walking Backwards” by Charlie Hill. RESCHEDULED August 10th 2017 @Cherry Reds bar, Birmingham. The author of this new collection asked me read a flash piece at its launch. I shall read out a piece called “Door in the Mountain”, which is a story about finding a new faith in the face of natural disaster.

 

Trap Street Irregulars

I appeared at the PowWow Literary festival and read a short fiction piece based on the theme urban myths and fairy tales called “Trap Street Irregulars” which concerns finding the copyright trap streets on Ordnance Survey maps might be more than just on paper and what happens should you travel down one…

It got a pretty good reception, and I shall now search for a print or online home for it.

 

A Winter Ramble to the Site of the Shapwell Ghyll Spacecraft – 365 Tomorrows

Last year,  a short story of mine was nominated for a British Science Fiction Association award and I found this whole idea so weird and unlikely that I had to purge the nonsense from my system with this little flash.

Awards eh? Silly business, but I’m really happy when my friends win them.

 

Witch Houses – The Island Review

My short piece — described by some a thriller, and by myself as “not my usual output” — is reprinted at the Island Review for your uneasy delight.

 

 

Exciting!

My short story Build a Cat has been nominated for a British Science Fiction Association award for 2016, in the shorter fiction category!

Although I have long felt the big awards are a bit of silly old business, this is news that is both totally unexpected and welcome since it comes from the genre community in which awards (I feel) reinforce a sense of appreciation and ‘geek camaraderie’ over any other impulse.

It won’t go any further but it’s nice to get a nod.

 

The Drowning of Corporal Blake – STORGY magazine

Read The Drowning of Corporal Blake here

I was asked to write a synopsis of the 2000 word short story (new experience for me) and this is what I came up with:

With only a measure of smuggled alcohol for comfort, a disillusioned solider learns how duty can take many forms in war and how there is always room for mercy.

My usual happy-time fun fayre, then.

 

STONE in Corbel Stone Press’s Reliquiae Journal

My short story Stone appears in Reliquiae Journal volume 4, November 2016.

The placement of this in Reliquiae came as something of a surprise — a most welcome surprise of course — since the piece is essentially a work of nature- and landscape-inspired speculative fiction and I wasn’t convinced it was an appropriate fit for this particular publication.

But the editors liked it and I was very pleased to have it accepted.

The setup has precedents in so many petty border dispute wars that exist because of ignorance, generational hatred and the will of the ruling classes, but the “technology” at work is nothing more than a vast piece of rock that appears above one of the combatants’ territory.

As I mention in the upcoming Build a Cat podcast, in SF it is often the case that what’s more important about a propelling piece of technology (or concept, or new behaviour, or giant floating stone etc) is to comprehend the effects rather than its specific workings.

What is the effect of this alien visitor? Will its incomprehensible size and means of transit widen the range of the people’s thinking beyond perpetrating yet more years of senseless suffering?

 

Reliquiae is an annual literary journal of poetry, short fiction, translations and essays. Edited by Autumn Richardson & Richard Skelton and published by Corbel Stone Press, it combines diverse contemporary and historical responses to landscape – ecological, lyrical, ethnological, visionary, philosophical, esoteric.

 

Travels by Foxlight – Unsung Stories

Travels By Foxlight, a new short story of mine, is published by Unsung Stories.

This is me considering some of the means (technological and behavioural) we may bring about our own demise, and how we are often wont to become trapped in certain unbreakable cycles. Enjoy!

 

Unsung releases a peach of a short every two weeks. It’s well worth subscribing – Unsung are doing good work in putting out regular short SF fiction pieces and publishing unique longer works of SF/weird.

 

The Other Stories – Episode 82 – Build a Cat

Ilana Masad of the Other Stories podcast describes my story Build a Cat as ‘an eerie, beautiful story about technology, love, and the intense beauty of building new worlds and puzzle solving.’

I love this description (and shows I really need to work on my sizzle-lines), and it serves the story well. In this episode I read the entire piece and then discuss how it came about and my writing in general with Ilana.

 

ThankBookFor podcast Series 2 Episode 13

My writers’ group makes an appearance on the ThankBookFor podcast (http://www.thankbookfor.com/), wherein I can be heard chipping in from the sidelines.

 

To The Ghost of the Homeless Man I Met By the ATM Last Night at Spelk Fiction

With Christmas fast approaching (according to the supermarkets at least), it’s time to reflect on the plight of disembodied spirits as the nights start drawing in.

 

Infinite in Every Direction in Here Comes Everyone magazine

Read my 140 word flash Infinite in Every Direction in the diverse and handsome quarterly Here Comes Everyone.

The shop link is http://herecomeseveryone.me/shop/ and a PDF version will be available later.

PDF Link here. http://herecomeseveryone.me/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/HCE_Transition-Issue_website.pdf

 

 

Build a Cat at Unsung Stories

This kind of story (which was written on a most excellent Arvon retreat) is one that feels oddly contemporary given recent tech news – nothing dates faster than the future, after all.

VR/AR was still basically at prototype/low take-up stage then. Now affordable consumer VR is just around the corner. In ten years, the tech side (wires, plastic) will disappear. We might want to use the platform for something more than just gaming, like, say, integrating folding technology to help cure horrible diseases?

Here is a story from that future.

This story also appears in the Best Of collection, which new subscribers receive for free when singing up to the mailing list at http://signup.unsungstories.co.uk/shorts

 

 

End of the World Music at Litro USA (formerly Litro NY)

 

An allegorical amuse bouche courtesy of the lovely people at Litro USA. This is quite an old piece. I’m very pleased something from a couple years back has found a home.

 

Original Album Classics in Change Seven Magazine issue 2

A short piece about how regret is both the burden and gift of youth, accepted by the charming folk at Change Seven mag.

 

Witch Houses in Hypertext magazine

Cargo Cults, red notices, murder, nature… all the good stuff.

The people behind Hypertext are just the nicest. So supportive and enthusiastic about new writing. I’m very happy to know them.

 

Expressions of Venom and Spleen at EveryDayFiction.com

This one was the direct output of an instant writing exercise at Group. It went to EDF, somehow got passed their readers (!) and there it is.

 

The Black and Blue Boy (ghost story in the Pow-Wow Book of Ghost Stories)

This story (which you can read if you’re clever with the Look Inside function on the above product page) came about from my memory of a “real life” ghost story I heard as a kid back in the Old Country. This fine collection came about as a fund-raising project for a local literary festival.

 

Isfahan (part of the Cityscapes anthology for the Barber Institute of Fine Arts)

Sometimes you listen to a Radio 4 From Our Own Correspondent, and sometimes you hear described a place that sparks the imagination, and sometimes you also happen to be researching Venetian city-state trading and Persian God-Kings and it all smooshes together in a pleasing way.

I have a small story in this fund-raising collection for my ‘alma mater’, Solihull Writers. It’s called the Six Way Super Yankee and it’s about how bad and good luck sometimes presents in the exact same moment.

 

Springtime in Birmingham – Birmingham Post (output from writing course run by local publishers Tindal Street Press)

250 words on, well, I think you get it.

Time ’tis to discourse from the preacher’s chair. By the well of Urd I silent sat, I saw and meditated, I listened to men’s words. “Birmingham has more canals than Venice, you know!”